Solar Panel

The Growth And Development Of Renewable Energy Technologies

It is no secret that the call for green sources of energy is growing louder as climate concerns rise with each day. Among the warranted concerns for climate disasters and a need for immediate and real change, it is sometimes difficult to recognize the progress. As Greta Thurnburg said to the US Congress in 2019: “You must unite behind the science. You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up can never ever be an option.” So how is the industry fairing? How are technologies developing? What can we expect to see from 2020?

Recently, The Guardian reported that tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google (by a considerable lead) were the “world’s biggest buyers of renewable energy.” Adding that, the overall purchase of renewable energy from corporations had tripled in the last two years. Google’s involvement should come as no surprise considering its serious push for green energy in the last three years alone. In 2017 the giant announced it would use 100% green energy, utilizing wind and solar energy across the globe. In 2019 it increased its investment by a further 40% which equated to roughly $2 billion in clean energy. Sundar Pichai stating that it would “spur the construction of more than $2 billion in new energy infrastructure” in order to fuel new developments as the company matures.

As investments in sustainable energy grow, development of those technologies can be expected. Some technologies, more than others, will be more popular and easier to implement or develop, so which are due to have a growth spurt in 2020?

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Marine Solar Panels and Offshore Wind

Whilst these are not new technologies, their rapid development and increasing affordability has warranted leaps of progression in the sector. In particular the rising installment of floating solar panels seems to be an efficient way of harvesting green energy. One of the age-old protests of wind and solar farms is its use of needed land and its “unattractive” blot on the environment. Like offshore wind-farms, floating Solar panels can make use of offshore space and utilize uninhibited sun. In 2019, China instated what is said to be the largest floating Solar panel installment in the world, totaling 70MW. Green Tech Media stated in 2019 that the “global floating solar demand is expected to grow by an average of 22 percent year-over-year from 2019 through 2024.”

Already with its roots down is Offshore wind, which as a fast growing and lucrative sector, has promising trajectories in the future. With one wind turbine able supply a year’s worth of energy for 1500 homes. It is no wonder that according to “Investment in offshore wind reached USD 29.9 billion in 2019, up 19% on 2018 and USD 2 billion more than in the previous record year of 2016.”

Artificial Intelligence

Whist not a stand-alone supplier of green energy, the development of AI has been a fundamental catalyst in quickly improving the technologies and uses of green energy. By data analysis AI has been able to advance the effectiveness of green energy by speeding up production, reducing waste, increase energy efficiency, storage and track trends. The development and use of such technology should make more green energy services more cost-effective.

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Improvements in energy storage and reliability

One pressing concern in the production and utilization of sustainable energy, is how to store it. Some energy producers such as wind and solar are privy to changes in conditions (such as lack of wind and sun) whereby energy is not efficiently produced, if at all. Batteries are then needed to meet the demand of businesses and homes, who will need energy regardless of these factors. Batteries can “fill the gaps” in energy stream when wind and solar farms struggle to do so and maintain consistency when there are fluctuations in the supply. At the moment batteries are not sufficient enough to meet consumers demands, so a heavy push to develop these technologies is needed and expected to be seen in the near future.

Other technologies are allowing green energies to be accessible by more and more businesses and individuals. In order for renewable energies to take hold of the market, the market needs to easily and reliably utilize that energy. Block-chain technologies, Grid Parity and Distributed Energy Resources (DER’s) all aim to aid this. Block-chain technology will allow securer, smarter and easier trade of energy whether derived from individuals or businesses. For example, Individuals will be able to safely sell and exchange their excess energy to a nearby buyer. Grid parity aims to equalize the cost of green energies to other energy producers, making them more attractive to buyers. DER’s are decentralized community-produced forms of energy supply that can be more affordable and will allow individual producers of energy to sell electricity to the grid.


How the Travel Industry is Fighting Climate Change

As the effects of climate change materialize in the form of more frequent and destructive extreme weather events, various industries are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint with renewed intensity. As tourism contributes heavily to carbon emissions thanks to the emissions released by cars and airplanes, the tourism industry is looking for ways to make vacations more environmentally-friendly. The industry is deploying a variety of methods for doing so, from investing in more carbon-neutral infrastructure to educating tourists about the environmental impacts of travel and teaching them how to reduce carbon emissions. And as popular vacation destinations are being transformed by a changing climate, tourists are witnessing first-hand the disastrous impact of climate change, reinforcing the urgency of developing more environmentally-friendly practices like reducing carbon emissions, cutting back on waste, and exploring sustainable alternatives in all parts of life.

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According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the tourism industry is responsible for about 5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, although others say the real figure is much higher than that. While this percentage may seem small, it accounts for a tremendous amount of carbon being released into the environment, and when it comes to tackling climate change reducing carbon emissions in whatever way possible is essential. Like major corporations in other industries, hotel chains are exploring ways to transform their businesses into ones that have a low or neutral carbon impact. Hilton, for instance, gets more than 50 percent of its electricity from a power plant that burns natural gas, which is a cleaner method than most popular forms of energy production, although it is not entirely carbon neutral. Hilton is also transitioning to using more energy-efficient lighting and appliances, including air conditioning systems that automatically turn off when they’re not being used.

Cruise lines, too, are trying to transition to a more environmentally-friendly business model. Royal Caribbean, for instance, is incorporating technology into their cruise ships that filters almost all of the sulfur dioxide emissions from their exhaust. The popular cruise line, having pledged to respect the oceans in the environment, has also invested in energy-saving lighting systems and has engineered the designs of their ships for optimum efficiency. Another cruise line, Hurtigruten, plans to transition to using liquified biogas, which is derived from organic waste instead of from fossil fuels.

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Educational efforts are part of how the industry is attempting to tackle climate change as well. Many hotels and tour groups encourage tourists to reduce waste by taking shorter baths and showers as well as reducing their laundry by re-using towels, among other strategies for minimizing waste. Tourist destinations, such as Lake Tahoe in Nevada, are trying to reduce their carbon emissions by improving their public transportation systems, reducing the extent to which people rely on cars to get around. Even luxury tourism brands are attempting to become more environmentally-friendly; The Brando, for instance, is a luxury resort that runs entirely on renewable energy, acting as a model for how other resorts can help to provide a luxurious vacation experience while completely eliminating their reliance on fossil fuels and harmful carbon emissions. 


As the global economy is currently strong, many expect that the tourism industry will continue to grow in the future, even as the nature of tourism itself changes due to climate change, both in terms of how a changing climate affects the weather conditions of tourist destinations and in terms of how the tourism industry is changing to reduce its contributions to the crisis. 

Climate Change Protest

Amazon Employees Join The Millions Striking Against Climate Change Inaction

This past Friday, September 20th, the world saw one of the largest global protests in history, striking against the lack of action from governments around the world in regards to climate change. The protests were organized and led by generation z kids, who are also refusing to have kids in the future, until they’re ensured that there will be a future. Sources have reported the worldwide crowd total reached up to 4 million! New York City even gave permission to its 1.1 million students to take off of school for the day to protest for their futures, drawing a crowd of 250,000 NYC citizens to the streets, making it the largest protest group in the world for the day. 

Greta Thunberg, the noteable 16 year old Swedish climate activist marched the streets of New York City as well, telling USA Today, “Around the world today about 4 million people have been striking. This is the biggest climate strike ever in history and we all should be so proud of ourselves because we have done this together.”

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Greta Thunberg In the NYC Climate Strike

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of inspiring teenagers marching, workers from Amazon headquarters all across the globe also participated in a “walk out” to join the climate strike. The walk out was organized by a group of Amazon employees known as “Amazon Employees for Climate Justice.” The group works hard on using the vast amount of Amazon resources and money for the greater good of the planet, however, working under one of the largest companies on the planet makes global change quite difficult. The group estimated that around 1,800 employees from 25 offices located in a total of 13 different countries would participate, however, Seattle alone had over 3,000 employees walk out on Friday. 

At approximately 11:30 am in Seattle, the 3,000 workers left their offices and conglomerated in “The Spheres”, which are a trio of steel-and-glass greenhouses Amazon built for employee use. The employees held up signs protesting the mass amount of fossil fuel use Amazon uses every day for deliveries. One of the most popular signs was “Good Start Jeff” which was a response to a claim made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who said the company would be completely carbon neutral by 2040, an ambitious goal that Bezos is also planning on having 50% completed by 2030. The initial reaction to this news was quite positive, however, the group of Amazon climate activists wasn’t satisfied enough.  The group tweeted on Friday that it “wants Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and pilot electric vehicles first in communities most impacted by pollution.”

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“Climate change is and must be a work-appropriate conversation, climate action is your job, this means living our values, walking into the office every day ready to reassert what you believe in. We are a community united across tech, across countries. We are not Google, we are not Amazon or Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Twitter. We are human beings and we need each other right now,” said an employee named Sam to reporters at the Seattle walk out. 

Amazon workers are viewing the corporate level “promise” to help the planet seems like they’re  just sliding in at the last minute in order to cover up for the lack of action they could’ve taken within the past decade. Employees want a guarantee from Amazon that they will no longer donate to political campaigns/candidates/lobbyists who are public about their denying of climate change, and additionally to stop all business/contracts with fossil fuel companies. The company employs over 600,000 people worldwide, so the group is really encouraging Amazon to be the lead tech company on track to run on zero emissions. 

The group doesn’t plan on backing down anytime soon, and neither does the rest of the world. So until the big companies and politicians actually start taking action and claiming that we are in a climate crisis, the world will continue to unapologetically scream about it.